It usually takes me seven minutes to get to my daughter’s preschool. Today, it took 27.
That’s because, for the first time in 18 months, I strapped my 11-month-old son into the double stroller and walked there.
I like to walk. Our family of four has one car, and in the two years that we’ve owned it, we’ve only put 14,000 miles on the odometer.
I’m not alone. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, nearly 80 percent of respondents look for homes in pedestrian-friendly areas and 59 percent would choose a smaller home if it meant less driving.
Still, I find that once I’ve gotten into the habit of driving someplace — my daughter’s preschool, the Trader Joe’s on the other side of the highway, the garden store — I tend to keep on driving there, deeming it too far to reach on foot. The funny thing is, once I decide to test walking to a destination once, I realize not only how doable it is but also how satisfying running that errand becomes.
So now I’m on a quest of sorts: to debunk the myth that certain places in my everyday life are too far to reach on foot.
My nine-year-old is covered with mosquito bites, bruises and scratches. From the time she arrives home from school until I call her for dinner, she’s AWOL — running through woods, building forts out of sticks, catching toads … .
To hear some parents tell it, the fact that I haven’t a clue exactly where my nine-year-old is for an hour or more at a time is evidence of poor parenting, if not outright criminal neglect. And with a recent arrest in the cold case of six-year-old Etan Patz (the first missing child to have his face on a milk carton), this sentiment increasingly runs high.
We all need it, we all have it, we all draw from it, we all seek it, and without it there is nothing left: hope.
The ability to persevere comes from inside — it is a part of you. When life throws you a curveball, when your path becomes a grinding mountain instead of a downhill glide, when there seems there is no way out, you must draw from your inner well of hope.
Whether to fulfill our goals or to fight to survive, we all draw from our same inner supply of hope. It is the first thing we should teach our children. Hope is a necessary component of survival and as sweet as hoping for a shiny red bicycle for Christmas.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”~Lao Tzu
Although all mothers know this, no one can truly warn you before it happens: Your body is never the same after you have a baby as it was before you got pregnant.
Sure, we see images of movie stars who bounce back from having babies more toned and fit than they were before pregnancy, but the reality for most women is much less seamless. Having a baby affects you inside and out: You stretch and move differently, and your anatomy changes — permanently — from that growing being inside your body. That pair of skinny jeans, your high school dress and your once stretch-mark-free body often become just a distant memory. This change can make women feel imperfect or less attractive than they remember themselves to be.
When I walked into the room for my first “official yoga class” (read: not with a DVD at home, which had been my practice for years) I felt weak. I was mom to a two-year-old and a four-year-old and I was out of shape. My stomach was flabby from cesarean sections, my leg muscles shaky and my self-image less than ideal. Feeling neither powerful nor like a rock star, I just hoped that yoga would help me get back the body I once had.
It wasn’t until the day that I held Plank Pose in yoga class that I finally got it: I still had an amazing body.
My son is a dreamer. An absent-minded sort of kid who responds to every question with silence. Who’s always looking intently off in the distance or up at the ceiling. Then, when the question is repeated, he’ll look as if he’s just noticed you’re there and say, “Wha?”
It’s a trait that, not surprisingly, drives some of his teachers mad.
Hope, expectation, anticipation, the desire for a certain outcome. Hope is what moves us forward, motivates us and keeps our faith strong during the hard times. Hope is essential for our existence; yet there are times — when the world seems to be in a state of chaos — when it is easy to wonder where hope is.
In thinking about hope and how to find it in our world, I realized that for me, hope comes from my yoga practice and my kids, as both remind me on a constant basis that hope dwells within us, not outside of ourselves, and that in order to tap into that wellspring of hope, it is essential to find the peace within to let hope blossom.
Gaiam parenting blogger Susan Stiffelman appeared on The Today Show yesterday to chat with hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford about her book, Parenting Without Power Struggles. Watch the video of Susan explaining how to defuse a temper tantrum on the Today show website (or by clicking the image above) and learn more about the book (and sign up for Susan’s free parenting e-newsletter) on her website, ParentingWithoutPowerStuggles.com.
It’s often said that we’re living with our best teacher, and nowhere is that more true than with our children. No one has the ability to push our buttons the way our kids do. And no one offers us the opportunity to practice the things we preach — about love, forgiveness and staying centered — like our kids do.
Every parent wants to stay cool, calm and collected. We don’t want to threaten to send them to bed without their supper when they’ve sassed back, or tell them they’re grounded for a month when — yet again — they refuse to honor their curfew. But taking a deep breath or counting to ten can seem almost impossible in the presence of kids who seem to know exactly how to push our biggest buttons.
You can make the holidays a time of dramatic change and healing by using your innate intuitive abilities in a conscious and directed way.
Holidays are supposed to be a time when families unite, when you are reminded of your childhood or revisit the memories of yourself over the years. You may be spending this time alone or far from home. But no matter where you are or who you are with, the holidays provide you with a unique opportunity to heal the inner patterns and relationships that have been obstructing your life and hindering your dreams.
How I became the chubby kid
As a child, I was given free reign to eat whatever I wanted. This meant daily bowls of crushed oreos in milk, after-school snacks of burgers and fries as a “treat” for answering phones at the family business and, in the evening, half a pint of Haagen-Dazs for dessert. Every day I satisfied my “junk-food tooth” on top of my favorite past-times: reading, watching TV or playing with Barbies. Consequently I was that kid. The chubby one.
At the time, I didn’t have a lot of critical self-consciousness about it … I can’t remember inner voices telling me “you’re fat” or “if you eat that you’ll get fatter” (although I did always wear a T-shirt over my bathing suit). I say “inner voices” because there actually were some external voices saying these exact things to me, directly and out loud: my parents and grandparents. They saw my bulging belly, thick thighs and chipmunk cheeks and thought it went beyond cutesy “baby fat.”